Promoting Cultural Exchange with a J-1 Visa

How do I apply for a J-1, Exchange Visitor non-immigrant visa?

A J-1 visa is a type of non-immigrant visa granted by the United States to eligible professors, students, entrepreneurs, and others who will participate in programs that promote cultural exchange.  The J-1 visa Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) brings an estimated 300,000 foreign visitors from more than 200 countries and territories to the U.S. each year.  Those seeking to enter the U.S. on a short-term basis to study, teach, research, and the like should investigate the J-1 visa to determine if it is right for them.  

J-1 Visa Basics 

To be eligible to receive a J-1 visa, you must be an alien with a residence in a foreign country and no intention of abandoning that residence.  You must be a student, teacher, professor,trainee, research assistant, leader, or specialist in a certain field, or someone of similar credentials, who is coming to the U.S. in order to participate in a program designated by the U.S. government for the purpose of teaching, lecturing, studying, observing, consulting, or receiving training.  

There are several categories of eligible aliens within the J-1 program.  These categories define the type of exchange you will seek, and include:

  • Teacher
  •  Au pair 
  • Physician
  • Professor or research scholar
  • Trainee
  • Summer work travel program 
  • Specialist
  • College or university student
  • Camp counselor

Those granted a J-1 visa can remain in the U.S. until completion of the exchange program, and can additionally stay an extra 30 days after the program’s completion.  Your minimum or maximum length of stay will be determined by your specific J-1 category.  

Applying for a J-1 Visa 

If you are interested in participating in a J-1 exchange program, you will first need to find a J sponsor.  Your sponsor must accept you into its program in order for you to be eligible to receive a J-1 visa.  You can find a list of designated sponsor organizations on the United States Department of State website.  

Once approved by your sponsor, you will need to submit a DS-2019 Form.  This form will allow you to interview with the U.S. embassy or consulate.  During the interview, you will be asked about the program you seek to enter, your intentions after completion of the program, your finances, and the like.  Your visa and immigration attorney will assist you with applying for and successfully interviewing to receive a J-1 visa.  

If you should have any questions or need more information about the way that the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Laws may impact you, your family, your friends or your colleagues, please contact the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Lawyers at the NPZ Law Group – VISASERVE – U.S. Immigration and Nationality Lawyers by e-mail us at or by calling us at 201-670-0006 (x107) or by visiting our Law Firm’s website at